Sexual orientation has no impact on judges' abilities: CJI Chandrachud
Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, speaking at India Today Conclave 2023 on Saturday, asserted a judge's sexual orientation had "nothing to do" with their ability. The statement came when he was answering questions on the country's collegium system for judicial appointments and the row over the Supreme Court Collegium's reiteration of openly gay advocate Saurabh Kirpal's appointment to the Delhi High Court.
Why does this story matter?
- Chandrachud's remarks on Saurabh Kirpal came months after the Centre rejected his appointment.
- If approved by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government, Kirpal would become India's first openly gay judge.
- Notably, the SC Collegium also published online the government's objections and intelligence reports—on three recommendations, including Kirpal—by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in January, which triggered controversy.
Here's what Chandrachud said about Kirpal's appointment
Referring to the controversy over Kirpal's appointment and publishing of the intelligence reports, Chandrachud said, "Every aspect which was mentioned in the report of the Intelligence Bureau was in the public domain." "The candidate in question is open about his sexual orientation. So, when the IB flagged something, we weren't really opening up IB sources of information. What could be the danger?" he asked.
Judges's abilities and sexual orientation aren't linked: CJI
CJI Chandrachud stated that a candidate's sexual orientation doesn't affect their constitutional entitlement to assume a role of a high court judge. "All that we said in the resolution was that the sexual orientation of a candidate has nothing to do with the ability or the constitutional entitlement of the candidate to assume a high constitution post of a high court judge," he added.
Chandrachud's response to question on Rijiju
Amid the ongoing tussle between the judiciary and the Centre, Chandrachud also commented on Law Minister Kiren Rijiju earlier voicing dissatisfaction over the SC Collegium disclosing the government's objections to candidates recommended for appointment as judges. "He has a perception. I have a perception...there is bound to be a difference of perceptions. And what's wrong in having a difference of perceptions?" the CJI said.
Have to insulate judiciary from outside influences: CJI
Chandrachud also stated that the collegium system's goal was to maintain independence, which can be achieved by insulating it from external influences. The CJI remarked, "The object of this system was to maintain independence which is a cardinal value." "We have to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to be independent. That is the underlying feature of collegium," added Chandrachud.
CJI on social media trolling of top court judges
Moreover, commenting on the recent social media trolling of apex court judges, Chandrachud said it was important for judges not to be "affected by the cacophony of extreme views which you sometimes find on Twitter." "Nowadays, there is live tweeting of every word which is being said in the court, and that puts an enormous amount of burden on us as well," he added.
Opposition MPs write to president over trolling of CJI Chandrachud
To recall, opposition leaders last week wrote to President Droupadi Murmu demanding action against those supporting and sponsoring the alleged social media trolling of Chandrachud, who was hearing the Shiv Sena row in the top court. The letter also sought directions to the Information Technology and Law and Justice Ministries and the Delhi Police to identify the offenders, demanding strong legal and criminal action.